Cotton

Noren, Sulim 15, 1307

"Ken?" David asked as I sat in the left chair, reading a book.

"Yeah?"

"There is a disturbance within the range of my sensors. It looks like a Crowley drive transit." The screen overhead came to light, illustrating the location where David had detected the anomaly. "There has been a transit at two point seven million kilometers. Nine light seconds. I am picking up a distress response."

Finally. "Hail them."

A moment later, the signal came back. "Hello, vessel. This is the Pendorian Rescue Tender Loving Care, out of Beccara." Beccara? "We have received your distress signal. Identify yourself, please."

"Hello, Loving Care. This is the Pendorian Vessel Leif Erikson, out of Parma. We are a privately owned family transport." I could just hear the captain of the Loving Care thinking to himself, tourists. "We thank you for coming to our aid. I'm afraid our ship's drives have gasped their last."

Now the thought running through his head were incompetent tourists. Still, I was grateful for his help. "Leif Erikson, I'm afraid I have no record of your ship in our registry. This may not mean anything but it is unusual. Your identification code is accurate, but could I get you to sign a key for me?"

"Gladly," I replied. Dave received the key, signed it, and returned it.

"Thank you. Do you have sufficient power for SDisk interaction? I'd like to send over my chief engineer, Bambi Fendoza. We'll see what she can do for you."

Bambi? "We do. I'll activate one for you and prepare to meet you on our receiving deck."

"Thank you."

Downstairs in the receiving bay, P'nyssa and I waited for the arrival of our knight in shining powered armor. Actually, I thought, she won't come in much more than overalls. The SDisk glowed with lock-on (it didn't have to, but we programmed it to do so to give us a little warning), and then the traditional 'blink' effect as the engineers– three of them, actually– into view.

Five seconds later, P'nyssa was still fighting to keep from laughing aloud as I and they stood there and stared at one another. "You're... " was the first word from all our mouths. The one in front got the upper hand. "You're alive!" She dove for me and hugged me tightly as if I were some long-lost brother. The case she had been holding in her hand clattered along the floor. "We've missed you so! Where have you been?"

I pushed her away just long enough to get a good look at her. "Where... where did you come from?"

She laughed and looked at me. "Hi! Bambi Fendoza, Pendori Lepus Sapiens Nipha, century four in '36. Tylia Shardik, principal designer."

"Rabbits?" I was stunned. I'd thought about doing rabbits a while ago but had never been quite able to get around to doing it. Life had been so busy since the Ritacha Incident. "Rabbits?"

"Your laser's stuck," she laughed. One of the others turned to the still giggling Tindal. "You must be P'nyssa Traken Shardik." P'nyssa nodded. The rabbit held out her hand. "It's so wonderful that you're all... here!"

P'nyssa laughed again. "Thanks. I guess. What's your name?"

All three of them stopped for a second. Then the one facing P'nyssa said, "Bambi."

"You're both named Bambi?" P'nyssa asked.

"No," said 'my' Bambi. "We are all Bambi."

I looked at her, then at the second, and the third. They were all identical. But it was more than that. Their attentions were on me as if... "No."

A look of recognition came over their faces. "You're pre-Fall!"

"What?" I asked, hearing P'nyssa say the same thing.

"You're pre-Fall. Before the Fall of the Taboo. You guys don't know what's happened in the past fifty years, do you?"

"No," I agreed, my heart sinking. "And I'm afraid that I'm not going to like what I hear."

"Why not?" Bambi asked.

I changed the subject. "So how does this..." I gestured in the air, making a circle... "work?"

"Easy. I had myself fitted with deep symbol cyberwear," she said, tapping her temple. "Then, I was put under, had myself braced, and then put into coldsleep. Then two more of me were grown, the bracing was read back into the new bodies, and then the same cyberwear with the same keys was put into them, too. We were all three of us awakened at the same time."

"And you were ready to be... this?" P'nyssa asked.

"No, it took me months to get used to being a chorus," she said. "A chorus is what one of these is called, all based on the same template body. There are also quartets, quintets, and some groups are founding symphonies of different people. The mentation capacity is incredible."

I sighed. "I guess."

"You don't approve of it," she said.

"What is there to approve of?" I asked.

Through the pain of my rejection she managed to smile. "I hope you'll get used to it. I'm sorry if you don't understand it." Then she straightened up, all business once more, and said, "So. What happened?"

"What happened what?" I asked.

"What happened to your ship to maroon the entire Shardik household out here in the middle of nowhere, forty light-years from the nearest habitable planet?" She grinned. "And what's that smell?"

"We're marooned because our engines quit, and not even Dave can quite tell why. We might have whiteholed." I grimaced. "That smell is our sewage plant. Not sure what happened to it. It was like that when we woke up."

"I guess I'll learn to live with it." One of her reached down and picked up her case. "Lead on."

A few hours later I joined her in the back of the ship. Watching the three of them move as one, examining the problem from several angles, made me think of her more as an AI running three bodies than as a person in three bodies. Somehow, I have my doubts that Bambi was what trinitarians had in mind.

There was no denying that, individually, she was a very pretty creature. I had never been particularly excited by the idea of rabbits themselves, but oh, Tylia had done a wonderful job with these. Bambi was tall, with the rounded facial features and large eyes one would expect. The mouth was a particularly nice job, and the whiskers complimented and framed her face in a way that nagged at me until I remembered that Tylia wore glasses. She would understand the need for a good facial frame, be it whiskers or hair.

Bambi– all three of her were dressed the same– wore clothes that once would have been scandalous. Black boots to the mid-calf, just low enough to show an unusual distribution of muscle high on the calf, slightly heavy thighs that were barely covered by a skirt that didn't hide anything at all. Her shirt was a simple tunic stretched tautly over a rather small chest, no bouncing bunny that one, and like most Pendorian species, thankfully, she had no human-like hair. The Terrans had insisted on hair for Katckins and Neorats, and I maintain my aesthetic opinion that that just looks weird.

They were all concentrating on the task at hand and, yet, I was of the opinion that they were all aware I was there, looking at her, thinking about her. It didn't help that my hormones, which I think are irretrievably linked to my curiosity, thought of her in ways that didn't jibe with my disapproval.

But how does one disapprove of the future? For that matter, how does one disapprove of another person merely because of their existence? I sighed aloud. She looked up, giving me a chance to say, "How does it look?"

"Not too bad," one of them said. I don't know if it was the one I first saw or not. She seemed to make an effort to use them interchangeably. "You're right. You whiteholed. But it's really weird; you survived the incident. Your singularity just blipped out of existence. It's happened before, about three times in history." She grinned. A grin looked interesting on her face, with her huge glittering eyes smiling over that narrow mouth. "Still, I guess if you had whiteholed fully, we wouldn't have heard about it. Probably the same with those other ships that whiteholed without warning."

"Presumably," I said, keeping up with the conversation. I noticed that the other two were also looking at me, although discretely. It wasn't like they were staring at me. "So what does it take to get us back on-line?"

"If we had the power, we'd hook our generators up to your ship and jump-start you a singularity. But we don't, so we're going to call a mobile repair carrier. We didn't know your tonnage when your distress signal came to us. The carrier has the power to jump-start you a singularity, but the Captain would prefer that we carry you to Beccara to check your ship over. And study the whitehole effect."

"Do you want to study the whitehole, or us?"

"Both!" she laughed. "You have no idea how thrilled I am to be the first person to see you when you've returned to the Corridor." Gods, she's pretty. Those eyes are damnably hypnotic. Her grey-brown fur and her wide ears accentuated the look completely.

But then there are three. I smiled anyway. "You'll get your chance."

"Your sewage system is shot. We have rooming for your entire contingent on board the Loving Care, since we're designed to save people from doomed vessels. I recommend moving everyone out of this smell. Besides, our toilets work." Her nose twitched as she pointed to the console. "Nanochine breakdown from extended non-temporal suspension."

"Rust."

"In so many words." She flipped a switch and the screens went dark. "She's salvage."

"I am not," Dave replied. "I'm just in a bit of a mess."

"A bit," she replied. "Don't worry, Mr. Majors. We'll get you back together."

"I would just like to get back to my old home."

"We'll arrange that, Dave," I assured him. "In the meantime, would you please advise the family to prepare to make arrangements to board the Loving Care?"

"Already done," Dave said.

"Way ahead of me as usual." I smiled. "Well, it looks like we're your guests, Bambi."

"Yay!" she said, with honest enthusiasm, three pairs of hands clapping. I felt caught up in her joy. I knew part of it was youth, and part of it a response to myth, but it was still hard to miss– or ignore. "That'll give me a chance to..." She stopped suddenly.

"To?" I asked.

"I was going to say, to welcome you personally and properly. But that's a bit... unwarranted, isn't it?" The one addressing me looked away, her fur laying flat and her eyes closing as she turned her head. I noticed with amusement that the other two shied away, too, but not as much. She was still watching my reaction.

"Oh, I dunno." I sat down next to her and placed my hand on an exposed knee. She turned back. "There's certainly precedent. Goddess knows you're lovely enough." Her eyes widened and that dazzling smile again transformed her face, but her eyes were still searching. I nodded slowly.

One leaped from her chair into my arms and hugged me tightly. "You mean that?"

"It's something to get used to, Bambi. Give me time. I'm not like you and, frighteningly enough, you're not like me, not anymore. But you–" I pointed to all three of them– "are all pretty, talented, skillful, and friendly. I can't get it out of my mind how... how interesting you are." I chuckled and touched her. Under that lush fur, a feminine body pressed itself against me. Even through the cloth of two uniforms I felt her warmth.

"It's twelve days back to Beccara with the carrier," she said. "Can you get used to me in that much time?"

"I'll try. Is anyone else on you crew... unusual?"

She thought for a moment. "You're probably going to need more time to get used to us."


My eyes had begun to hurt from staring at a PADD screen for nearly nine hours solid when Aaden took the thing out of my hands. "I think that's long enough, Ken. Have you had a rest break? Done some stretches?" My sometimes excessively healthy lover seems to think that my physical well-being rests with him. But in this case, his comments fit. Turning to look at him sent pain shooting up between my shoulder blades, causing me to wince in pain. "Ouch."

"Yeah, Ouch." His hands touched my shoulders and my body responded. I could almost hear my libido responding with a "Yes!" But I let myself relax as he began to rub, his fingertips pressing and caressing deep into my flesh, pushing out the long day's worth of stress and worry. "So what did you learn?"

"The universe is somewhat in the same shape we left it. The 'Empire' is really an Empire now, spanning eight globes and with a dynastic emperor in place who has been replaced by his son. Pendor now has six colonies on the border with this Empire, and the Empire has occasionally made experimental raids into our space, to test the defenses, presumably. Ritans are now members of society in every corner, thank the Gods, and the Han are well and dandy." I chuckled. "No new species have been found, but there are two new ones from Tylia. Lepus Sapiens, which we've seen, and Ursus."

"Ursus?"

"Bears," I said. "A species that rivals the Uncia and Han for size. Look." I showed him the illustration of a male and female standing side by side. "The male is race Tremarctus, the female a Thibetus. She even went and made a Maratimus variant, even if there isn't any genetic justification for it."

"Why not?"

"Ursus Maratimus isn't an Ursus at all. It was the biggest Mustelidae on Earth."

"Doesn't make a difference. You yourself said that the genetic structures of Terra made for pretty guidelines, not absolutes. Anything else in the works?"

"Hmm... Nothing according to this, but it's not like I have access to Hal's archive from here. Wouldn't be surprised if she found my Scuridae notes, though."

"How's Anni?"

"Retired. Her son, Corroi, rules llerkin now. This says he's adequate, although not the inspiration his mother was. She still makes appearances now and then, but isn't trying to lead the kingdom anymore." His hands pushed me away from my chair so he could reach my lower back. I bent over the table.

"This isn't doing us any good. Come on." He reached under my arm and pulled to indicate that I should stand. I did. He led me to the bed, and on the way I realized that I felt dizzier than I would have thought. I sat down on the edge and he pulled my shirt off, then pushed me down to remove my pants.

"What else?" he asked.

"Too much. New kids, gone adults." I sighed. The saga of life going on. His hands were warm upon my back, convincing me to rest, to relax. "The Taboo really is fallen. Group minds, extended minds, manufactured triads and trios and mores. Complete cyborganizations. It's odd. I should feel something. Part of me thinks I should recoil with horror from the prospect, but another part just thinks this is the way things are supposed to be." His hands became very convincing, eventually making me close my eyes and calling me to fall into a deep sleep. Just not yet. "Love you," I sighed.

"And I love you," he replied. "She's pretty, by the way."

"Who?"

"Bambi. She has her eye on you. You have your eye on her." His hands eased down the length of my back in long, gliding strikes.

"Oh, that feels good," I sighed. "Hmm... yeah, I do. Can you blame me?"

"She's not my type."

"That's 'cause she hasn't got a dick," I laughed. "Of course she's not your type!" He chuckled as well. "Yeah, she is pretty. And cute. And willing."

"For all the wrong reasons," Aaden pointed out.

"Yeah," I sighed. "Still, I wonder what it would be like. I still can't say that I approve of the triad. I still can't help but think of them as three people."

"Which ones do you want to save?"

"What's that?"

"Which ones do you want to save? I mean, if you think of them as three people, you must also think of them as two individuals whose consciousness is being suppressed to accommodate the one being named 'Bambi.' Which two do you want to rescue from that servitude?"

I thought about it for a moment. He was, in a way, right. I had read up on triads (three individuals with the same genome and initial Bracing, as opposed to trios, which were of three separate individuals) and they all really were an individual in every sense of the word. If you got them far enough apart that they were forced to bifurcate, both units became very depressed and anxious and determined to become part of the group again. That's why they formed a triad in the first place. They could function alone, but that wasn't the point.

Science fiction stories are full of people forcibly removed from group minds and coaxed into being 'an individual' again. It suddenly struck me just how, well, immoral those stories are.

I sighed. "You know, you asked the damnedest questions."

"It's my job," he joked, his warm hands working down my spine to the lower back. Aaden scooted back a bit and began kneading my buttocks with his large, powerful palms. "What do you think of our Captain?" I asked.

"He's... interesting. The Prelkin were in such a troubled way. There were so few of them when we left."

"I had one for a lover once," I said. "It's all llerkindi science in there. I'd really, really like to get a piece of him, too. But I doubt he'd take kindly to it."

"Depends on which piece of him you want," Aaden chuckled.

"You know something I don't?"

"Erolie'" he chuckled.

That made me turn around. "You're joking!"

"I know a pass when one is tossed in my direction. Now lie down and let me finish you." His hands encircled my thighs and eased all the pain and soreness from them. He's marvelous at this.

"But he's also borged out, too, did you notice?" Aaden asked.

"I did, and it's somewhat scary. He and the AI have a thing going that I can't begin to imagine, or appreciate. The way it was described to me is that so many of the things we use our brains for, the repetitive, memorized stuff of it, he's turned over to the machine, and all that's left for his brain is the personality and creative efforts. And he seems to have quite a bit of both."

Aaden hummed softly. While he did my feet with his hands, he leaned over and kissed my asscheek gently. I recognized the sensation instantly and cooed in response. If he wanted to play, I was willing. "Don't expect much energy from me," I said.

"I don't," he murred. "I just want to make you feel good."

"I do already."

"No," he said. His hands released my feet, which were definitely done, and when I next felt them they were on my buttocks. "I want to make you feel very good."

I startled slightly as I felt his warm breath between the cheeks of my ass. "Oh, Aaden... " His muzzle pressed into the cleft and I felt his warm tongue slither out and caress around the ring of my asshole. I was immediately lifted into pleasure by the pressure of his tongue as it glided over my hole, licking and kissing. He didn't try to get it into me, not yet. Just around and around, his touch delicate and wet. I crossed my over my head and lay there, letting him have his way, feeling his hands pulling my cheeks apart, feeling his bulky muzzle against my skin, his tongue probing my asshole. I'm so sensitive there that touches, touches like his drive me absolutely mindless with joy and I never want him to stop. I didn't want him to stop now.

But eventually, stop he must. I sighed, the sexual tension ebbing from me as his mouth lifted away from its delightful play. His body shifted over me, and I felt his legs straddle outside my own. The tension returned, urgent and needful in the presence of his bulk weighing me down to the bed. He had me pinned and that was exactly where I wanted to be. His furred, naked thighs pressed against my skin and as he sat down on my thighs I could feel his testicles nestling in the valley formed by my legs. "Murr...."

"Murr?" he asked, voicing the onomatopoeia.

"Yeah, murr!" I said.

He leaned over, pressing his chest to my back. His mouth kissed my ear gently. "Are you too tired to get fucked?" As he asked, I could feel the weight of his impressive cock pressing against the cleft of my ass. He was almost hard.

My ass twitched in anticipation. "No way," I sighed. "If you don't mind fucking me when I'm too tired to move."

"It's easier than tying you up," he chuckled, sitting up straight again. I felt his weight shift slightly to our left and heard a slight popping noise. His fingers grazed my ass and I felt the cold touch of lubricant being pressed into the cleft, against and slightly into my anus.

He leaned forward again, rising up above the bed and giving himself better aim. I knew the maneuver well from both angles. I felt his cock touch my skin, slide between my cheeks and finally press against my sphincter. My asshole spasmed tight, even after all these years still instinctively trying to protect me from myself. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, feeling the warmth and trust I have for him spreading through me with the air. My asshole relaxed and he knew it. The head of his cock slid into me.

I gasped. Familiarity has not taken away the feeling of joyous vulnerability that comes from feeling him occupy my body, take my body over and make it his. "Ohhh...."

"Hi," he said warmly, whispering in my ear. "How's that feel?" His hips made little circular motions, up and down, up and down; with each downward push his hard cock made its way a little deeper into my body, pressing up against my inner sphincter insistently.

"Wonderful," I sighed. He stroked his cock in the willing tunnel of my ass slowly, gently. I could feel the tip of his cock hitting the muscles at the end of my rectum; each strike was a little painful, a gentle reminder that he was just a touch too big for most people. He knew how to use it, though, and that made all the difference between him and most other mels as hung as he. His arms wrapped around me; his chest pressed against my back, pressing me down into the bed hard, giving him the leverage he needed to raise and drop his hips, to drive that wondrous part of him in and out of my body.

"You're hot tonight, Ken," he sighed, his breath already coming a little hard and throaty. "If you're so tired, why are you pressing back to receive me?"

"Because I want you," I gasped, pushing my hips up a little more prominently, trying to get the angle just right to take him a little deeper. "Yes, like that."

"Like this?" he said, pressing a little firmer against my ass with his hips, coming down a little harder to fill me.

"Yeah, like that," I growled.

He kept that tempo going for a few minutes, and for a few minutes I spent time wrapped up in a simple ecstasy of being his, of having not a care in the world but to just be there, under my lover, pleasing him. He took hot advantage of my pleasure, speeding up and pressing harder into me. "Gods, you're wonderful, Ken," he gasped.

"Aaden... harder..." He heard me, speeding his thrusts, letting loose with his desires. It was time for him to come, and we both knew it. His cock became an insistent piston inside me and his voice came in gasping growls as he reached for his climax. I felt his body tightening above me. Little signs gave away his imminent orgasm; his body tensed, his legs raised a little, the flesh of his arms became thick with the winding of muscles in response to his need. I pushed back hard, wanting to love him, give him, surrender to his power, to that need. I heard two voices growling in the room, snarling, and finally one shout joined by another as he came inside me, his cock shoved deep into my guts.

He collapsed partially atop me, sliding off my body to our right. "You..." he gasped. "Almost as good as when you're wide awake."

I didn't even lift my head. "Considering how tired I feel, I'm not sure that's a compliment."

He chuckled. "It is. And you are. Me too." He reached over me for the towel on the nightstand, using it to clean first me, and then himself. "I think it's time for bed."

"Agreed." I managed to find the energy to crawl over to him. "I love you."

"I love you too," he murmured. I kissed the underside of his muzzle, and he bent his head to make our mouths pass and our tongues touch. "G'night, lover."

"G'night, Aaden."

Next: The Chorus

Previous: Heather

Cotton
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is copyright © November 20, 2008 Elf Mathieu Sternberg and is available under a Creative Commons License.